I know, I know, I’m late on this and I haven’t posted anything in a while.  Sorry about that.  But today I feel productive and like getting on top of things so here it goes.  In not any too particular of an order…

1.VAMPIRES!!!!!!!!!

The Coldest Girl In Coldtown by Holly Black

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In case you don’t know already, I LOVE me some Holly Black.  Actually got to meet her at the Austin Teen Book Festival in 2013 when she was promoting this book.  I figured, Holly Black plus vampires?  How can a girl resist? 🙂 Imagine a zombie apocalypse, but replace the zombies with vampires.  Unlike zombies, however, vampires can think and hunt and now that everyone knows about them the government has set up coldtowns where the infected (and anyone that chooses to go) can live.  Oh, and once inside, you can never leave.  Why would anyone choose to live there?  Well Tana decides after she attends a  party and wakes up the next morning to find everyone else has been slaughtered by vampires.  Well, everyone except a super-hot vampire chained to a bed and her twit of an ex-boyfriend who may or may not have been infected.  Oh fun. Great cast of characters, interesting, different look at a world full of vampires.  Only Holly Black can write a book like this one. 2.Favorite conclusion to a series? The One by Kiera Cass the one If you haven’t started this series you totally need to get started NOW!  I got hooked on this one by a friend of mine.   The best description I’ve heard of it is it’s like the Hunger Games (minus the bloodshed) meets The Bachelor (minus the bloodshed).  Fun, smart characters, and finally a love-triangle series where going into the 3rd book you’re 100% sure who the main character (America Singer) should pick, but you don’t actually know if he will pick her.  Great conclusion to a wonderful series.  And another author I got to meet on a Dark Days tour where I got this book and had her sign it to one of my best friends who gets home from her mission in 4 weeks!!!!  But shhhhh, don’t tell! It’s a surprise!) And if you haven’t checked out EpicReads’ videos with Kiera, you totally should!  She’s adorable and hilarious! 3. Favorite middle grade series? The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppet by Tom Angleberger jabba Okay, so this is not the first one in the series, or even the only one I read last year.  Also read Darth Paper and Fortune Wookie last year, but this one was the most recent so I’m using it.  Deal. These books are great; some of the best middle school characters I’ve come across in a while (not that I read a ton of middle grade).  Plus they’re all tied together in an epic battle against cheesy, bad learning programs sent in by a dominating administration that’s surely been aligned to the Dark side for years.  And the only way to rebel?  With origami Star Wars puppets of course!  Duh!

4. Contemporary book that hit me the hardest

Hate List by Jennifer Brown

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We’re all familiar with school shootings, especially if you went to high school in the late 90s like I did.  (I did actually have to explain “Columbine” to a confused 15 yr old the other day.)  But this story is told from the perspective of the girlfriend of the (late) shooter in the aftermath of the attack.  She stopped the killings.  The killings she now has to come to terms with because how much of a role did she play in encouraging Nick?  That Hate List they made that’s all over the news, it was just talk, right?  She’s not at fault…right?  And if all the horrible things everyone tells Valerie about her dead boyfriend are true, if he was never any good as a human being, then what does that say about her?  Can you ever really move on from something like this? Really fascinating character study of Valerie and the people she has to deal with in the wake of a tragedy.  Kept me reading well into the wee hours.  Finished it in like a day I think.

5. Favorite book I loved that everyone else seemed to hate?  (or at least throw across the room?) Allegiant by Veronica Roth

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Now don’t get me wrong.  I get why people were upset with this one.  But after avoiding all the online freakouts it was still hard not to guess that something bad was going to happen.  All the responses were either “I cried ALL NIGHT LONG” or “I threw this book across the room!!!”  So yeah.  But I feel it was an appropriate ending for all the characters and totally in keeping with their personalities.

Well, I say that, but really there’s one twit that really should have been shot in the head.  Not the one that got a fresh start, but yeah…that other one?  *chic chic*…POW!  Right in the face.  I hate that kid.

But either way, I still love this series and this book!

6.The most intense dystopian I’ve read in a long while

The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings

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The murder rate in town is higher than the birth rate.  How crazy is that??  And there’s no leaving town and if you don’t get a solid job on your first try you’re done and have to scrounge for everything you get.  Meadow is wicked intense–the kind of girl that makes you think you could actually have a chance of surviving and intense, bloody, violent dystopian society if you train like freaking crazy for it.  I like it.  It makes me feel proactive.  I hate all the female characters that have all this time to deal with the terrible circumstances they live in or are about to face and then don’t do anything about it.  At least Meadow doesn’t just sit around waiting for someone to kill her.  She acts out.  Good for her.

7.Favorite new (to me) author discovery

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

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So oh my goodness I loved this book so much.  Now it does contain some bad language and there are some sexual encounters and a variety of sexual preferences addressed in the book, so if that’s not your thing, be forewarned.

BUT!  This book was hilarious.  I listened to it on audiobook and Libba Bray read it herself and it was like crack.  I hated to get out of the car when I had to be places because that would mean I’d have to stop listening.  No fair!

How to describe this book?  Beauty queens, dessert island, Sarah Palin knock off, reality show pirates, secret government plots, exploding face cream, commercial inserts, loss of sanity, self-discovery, and communist dictators with a stuffed lemur as their 2nd in command.  Yep.  All that.  Crazy, fun, twisting ride.  Loved it!

8.Can’t bring myself to read the last one yet because then it will be over!

Hell Week by Rosemary Clement-Moore

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I love this whole series.  It’s Veronica Mars meets Buffy meets Nancy Drew.  Maggie Quinn is fun and snarky and nosy and fights demon spawn from hell.  What’s not to love?  Plus, gotta respect the love story.  Sure, her and the boy basically got together by the end of the last book, but does that mean they stay together automatically?  Life still has to go on, people are busy, and boys are confusing.  Really…I need to just read the last one already.  I forget how much I love these until I start talking about them…Next on my TBR list!!!!

9. Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

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So funny story, true story… I’d seen this book on Tea Time with EpicReads.  It’s a girl dying of cancer, but not in the sad way.  Oh no, she first needs to get revenge on everyone she feels has wronged her.  Grrrrr…

Except, oh wait.  Now the cancer’s in remission.  Frick.

(Though she uses another word 😛 )

So I was telling my writing club kids all about it and how it sounded so good and then somewhere in it I realized, “Hey!  I know that girl!”  Yep.  Met Julie at a writing conference and she helped me with my pitch before I met with my agent!  So yeah, I have a bond with this book.  Can’t wait for Dumplin to come out next!  (Not in the same storyline.  Just Julie’s next book…)

10. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

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So. Freaking. Good.  They’re already making it a movie and the series is done yet!  I love stories where it’s like “Oh no, the aliens…have already invaded and taken over just about everything.  You’re screwed.”

All of the characters were appealing, all had an interesting story to tell.  And can I tell you how much I have a crush on this cover?!?  Seriously, if you haven’t yet, find it in hard cover and just feel how soft it is.  Sometimes I pull it off my shelf just to feel it.  It’s that soft.

Don’t judge me.

11.  Because like a good amp, I too go to 11. Sort of.  Both of these books had a similar theme, and I couldn’t pick between them so they get to share the #11 spot together.

Gated by Amy Christine Parker                   and               The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

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So both of these books are about girls living in religious cult compounds and their exposure to the outside world.  In Gated Lyla follows Pioneer, a captivating leader who will protect them all from the upcoming apocalypse–when the rest of the world will all die.  In The Chosen One Kyra (they even have similar names) lives in what is clearly a FLDS-type of community (not that hard to recognize when you’re Mormon) with a family that must follow their religious leaders no matter what.  Both face arranged marriages, Lyla to a friend she has no attraction towards and Kyra to her 60+ yr old UNCLE.  Talk about your gross!  Both girls face similar circumstances with different results and both are compelling reads.  How do I separate them???

And my bonus books.

Favorite Non-fiction

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb

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This girl is like the rock star of education and women’s rights.  I tear up just thinking about how awesome she is.  Don’t ever forget the blessing it is to live in countries where girls can do crazy things like own property and read a book without getting shot in the face.  Never take it for granted.  Be your own rock star.  Live without fear.  Stand up for others and for yourself.  You are amazing.  Remember that always.

Favorite rereads Here I’m picking 3 very different books.

Love That Dog by Sharon Creech

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You.  Will. Cry.

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

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Are you prepared for the apocalypse?

and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Do I even have to mention who wrote it or even show the cover or tell you why I love it??  No, but I’ll do at least 2 out of 3 of those.

by J.K. Rowling

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So what were your favorite books last year?  Or recently?  You read any of these?  Let me know in the comments below!!!

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